Monday, May 19, 2008

Sufficient protection for threatened race of Spotted Owl?

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released a recovery plan on Friday for Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina).

According to a press release:

Developed over two years with help from scores of scientists, a recovery team of diverse experts, and an interagency group of biologists, the plan envisions recovery of the northern spotted owl could be achieved in 30 years at a cost of about $489 million. However, many of the actions in the plan are given only a 10-year lifespan, Lohoefener noted, due to the uncertainties associated with the threat from barred owls and the severe unpredictable risk of fire, especially in the dry eastern portion of the spotted owl's range, generally east of the Cascade Mountains' crest. Recovery actions will be monitored closely for effectiveness and revised if needed.
American Bird Conservancy immediately pointed out concerns about the plan.

To conserve the owl, the plan creates Managed Owl Conservation Areas (MOCAs) on 6.4 million acres which is significantly smaller than the existing system of reserves on 7.5 million acres created under the Northwest Forest Plan. While the MOCAs overlap with the reserves in many places, they provide 1.1 million acres less habitat protection, and do not include forests on the east side of Cascade crest. The agency may also be able use the creation of MOCAs to justify eliminating the existing system reserves.
It also mentioned three other concerns and the Northwest Forest Plan.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

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